The Club of Rome already in 1972 pointed out that an economic concept based on constant growth cannot work because resources are limited. Nonetheless, these so-called planetary boundaries are still being exceeded by far, especially in the industrialized countries. Among other things, the threatening consequences of climate change make clear that a quick change of direction is becoming more and more urgent. Last but not least, the corona pandemic showed how vulnerable our entire economic and social system is and that more resilient structures are urgently needed in order to avoid further disasters. Sustainable development is only possible if people understand systemic relations, i.e. understand the consequences of the actions of everyone and each individual and how one can help shape the future society. ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) is intended to enable learners to take responsibility for shaping a socially, ecologically and economically sustainable future.
On May 16, 2021, Federal Education Minister Karliczek demanded thatfurther training and adult education in the future must play a greater role in educating people about climate-awareness and sustainable behavior. The so far low contribution to ESD is attributed to various reasons, e.g. the demand orientation and heterogeneity of the adult education sector. However, we see a further cause in the fact that there is no really applicable competence concept for ESD in adult education. In adult education, competency concepts imported from the school sector often turn out to be cumbersome, since competencies in school contexts are mainly related to methodological and technical contexts. In connection with the goal of sustainable development, however, the evolution strategies of competencies, i.e. the goal of finding the best possible solution to a problem in terms of sustainable development, are much more relevant.
Seen in this way, sustainable action can be understood a development task that every person has to master. The aim of the 5P-Competences project is to develop a competence framework based on analyses of the above-mentioned development tasks, which is specifically tailored to the life situation of adults. The competency framework to be created should form a basis for formal and informal learning. Therefore, the competencies and competence categories are formulated under the aspect of their teachability.
The next step is to create a digital competence framework that is to be used in virtual learning environments.
In a fourth step, a further training program for full-time and voluntary adult educators is being developed and tested, in which the theoretical basics, elements and practical application possibilities within the framework of ESD are conveyed. Finally, the partnership develops a European network and community of practice in which educational practitioners and those responsible for education come together, exchange experiences and good practices, and learn from one another
The aim of the project is to develop a competence framework that is tailored to the specific needs of adult education, and in the narrower sense of education for sustainable development. At the same time, a common frame of reference for learning opportunities in the area of ESD is created with the competence framework at the local level. The competence framework is intended to support full-time and voluntary teaching staff in the development of courses and course programs on sustainability topics, and to help ensure that educational offers can be tailored more precisely to the needs of the course participants. Secondly, the participants in the training (teaching staff) shall develop a basic understanding of the developmental tasks that adults must master on the way to sustainable action, as well as the skills required to master these tasks. Thirdly, the digital competence framework is intended to support teachers in developing online learning opportunities on ESD-relevant topics. Last but not least, the Community of Practice promotes the development of a common understanding of ESD and the creation of cooperative structures by enabling the exchange of experiences and best practices between different actors in ESD.
We are excited to introduce the Erasmus+ project SkillsMatch which aim is to provide capacity building to adult educators through the acquisition of essential digital skills. The project addresses the knowledge gap of adult educators regarding e-learning offers.
Nowadays, the quantity of online courses available online keeps increasing. Such an educational offer can be a considerable asset for adult educators who can use online courses as resources in their own curricula. And yet, and such a large online educational offer can be destabilizing for adult educators with basic digital skills who may not be able to search and find the appropriate e-course(s) for their teaching.
For this reason, the SkillsMatch project will help adult educators develop their digital skills to better answer the needs of their target groups. It will tackle the gap between the plethoric e-learning offer and the current skills of European adults educators. The project targets two specific groups: adult educators willing to upgrade their digital skills and designers of e-learning courses for adult educators (course providers).
To do so, the project will develop 3 results:
The project started in November 2020 and will last until October 2022. Our partnership gathers 7 partners from 6 different countries:
- Middlesex University, United Kingdom (coordinator)
- IDEC S.A., Greece
- Emphasys Ltd, Cyprus
- Pontydysgu SL, Spain
- P & W Project GMHB, Germany
- Eurocrea Merchant SRL, Italy
- Oracel TES Ltd, United Kingdom
The SkillsMatch team brings together experts in education, adult training and digital solutions development. We will soon release our first project result, the Online/mobile app designed for selecting the most appropriate e-learning courses, based on the MUSKET tool developed in Middlesex University. The overall objective of SkillsMatch is to enable adult educators to make the most out of digital educational resources and to further develop innovative practices in education in the EU.
In a fast changing world, where digital technologies are becoming an important driver for the disruption of education, the need for capacity building of adult educators in digital skills become apparent. A large number of course providers now offer online trainings for educators, who want to upgrade their digital skills. However, this massive increase of online courses of different forms has made it hard for the potential learners to select the most appropriate course that will support them develop the competences they need and progress in their learning paths. In this context, SkillsMatch comes to support adult educators develop digital skills and support course providers to develop new e-learning courses covering the demand for skills.
A major outcome of the EnterMode project is a Virtual Community of Practice that allows to widen views on entrepreneurship education, share good practice and build a common stock of knowledge based on practical experience with entrepreneurship education.
According to Wenger “communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly“ (Wenger 2010). They build a common stock of knowledge, accumulate expertise in their domain, and develop their shared practice by interacting around problems, solutions, and insights. A Community of Practice (CoP) is a learning partnership among people who have learned to do something over time and have developed a shared practice, whereas practice is a historically developed way to do something (Wenger 2019).
There is no doubt that the society of the future will be a learning society. Citizens are required to constantly update their competences, not only with regard to the world of work but in an encompassing approach to participate in contemporary societies. Moreover, modern societies face a rapid differentiation of educational pathways, opportunities and biographies. This increase in complexity from learners requires great effort into initiative taking, creativity, problem solving, risk assessment and decision taking, all of which requires learners to become stakeholders of their own learning process.
However, learner populations with a disadvantaged background or those remote from learning have great difficulties to take ownership of their learning, without being empowered. Empowerment is a term frequently found in formal and informal policy documents and expert discourses about adult education. But, although a great deal of rhetoric about learner empowerment, adult education practice too often remains caught in traditional instruction methods, fixed curricula and pre-defined learning outcomes. It's in particular low achievers who suffer from this situation, because they in the formal education system usually have made the experience that major parameters of their learning is out of their control, and thus never had the chance to develop a sense of ownership for their own learning.
PARTICIPATE is a new European project, which aims to promote participatory methods in adult education. It starts from the assumption that the impact on disadvantaged target groups can be greatly increased if education providers manage to adopt participatory approaches and methods, and this way support their learners to develop a sense of ownership of their learning and become lifelong learners. The specific objective of the PARTICIPATE project is to build a model for participatory design of learning outcomes.
The CONNECT project aims to leverage the impact of Learning Cities through building urban ecosystems of lifelong learning that harness the assets of European cities and transform them into a network of seamless pathways of learning experience for adult learners. In a society where existing educational pathways no longer guarantee opportunity, and with a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, connected learning for all citizens can open up new entry points and pathways to opportunity; in particular when integrating both the potential of ubiquitious learning technology and learning opportunities created by European cities.
Two years ago Prof. Michael Osborne asked me to contribute to a special issue of UNESCO's international review of education, dedicated to the topic of learning cities & regions. The publication should shed some light on quality in developing learning cities & regions, based on knowledge gained from EU sponsored projects and my evaluation work in the field. The following reflections build on the arguments already brought to the fore, and take those a step further by raising 8 fundamental questions towards building successful learning cities & regions.
In order to make lifelong learning reality, EU member states over the past two decades have promoted structural change in order to make their educational systems more flexible. More recently, national governments have started to decentralise the design and provision of adult education from the higher levels to local or regional governments, and to stimulate the building of local networks for lifelong learning. It is supposed that those networks are in a better position to react rapidly to changes and match learning needs with demands. Moreover, stakeholders on the micro-level are expected to bring learning closer to home but also closer to the situations in which it is applied (work, family, care, hobbies etc.).
The aim of the SAVED project is to tackle school dropout through the application of risk detector tools and, building the professional and organisational capacities necessary to deal with school dropout and absenteeism.
To effectively tackle dropout a range of tools were developed (transfered), such as a risk detector, which is an interactive electronic tool designed for counsellors to identify individuals at risk of school failure and dropping out. The technique is designed to evaluate students’ strengths and weaknesses that are considered important in the learning environment to assess not only the risk of school failure but also what type of support is most suitable for different groups of students.
The MMS project is developing tools to assist migrants and minority communities to be part of the society and community in which they are living. Its aim is to provide a practical approach to addressing the reality within migrant and minority communities of being at the margins of society. One of the fundamental principles of Europe is the freedom of movement as exampled in the European Year of Workers Mobility 2006. There are many studies and research papers which demonstrate the economic benefits which derive from mobility.
EILEEN stands for Enhancing Intercultural Learning in European Enterprises. EILEEN is a 2-year project funded by ERASMUS+, which seeks to promote intercultural competences and a welcome culture in enterprises. The EU is making significant efforts to eliminate the barriers to labour mobility. However, most of the enterprises in European countries do not necessarily have the essential intercultural know-how for receiving employers with a different cultural background. At the same time, often the foreign employees are not ready to face the challenge of working in a different country, and encounter difficulties in identifying the new cultural paradigms, accepting the differences and acquiring cultural knowledge.